By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 25-15-6
Colorado Avalanche 24-16-6
Can the Preds stay hot? <img alt=""
Thursday night, the Nashville Predators take on the Colorado Avalanche in their first of four meetings of the NHL season. The Avs are winners of two in a row, looking for their third straight win. After winning six games in a row, Nashville has gone 2-2 in their last four games. Most recently, the Predators beat the Coyotes by a 5-2 score Tuesday night on the strength of a JP Dumont hat trick.
Dumont's hat trick was the 19th hat trick in team history. Interesting to note, including Dumont last night, a hat trick has been scored in three of the last four games that the Predators have played in Arizona. Last January, former Predator Scott Upshall scored a hat trick on the 21st of the month. In the fall, Ed Jovanovski recorded his first career hat trick on November 3, 2010.
It has been almost an entire calendar year since the Predators and Avalanche have played against one another. The last meeting between the two clubs took place on February 4, 2010. The Predators took three of four meetings last season.
Nashville's record against the Avalance is 18-20-(5)-1. During the first five seasons of existence, the Predators had a 4-10-(5)-1 record but since the 2003-04 season Nashville has turned it around against the Avalance psoting a 14-10-0 record during that time.
Nashville's Patric Hornqvist scored two goals last night and is hopefully on a roll. In both games played in Nashville last season, Hornqvist scored the game-winning goal and finished the season with seven points, four goals and four assists, in four games against Colorado.
Special teams could be the difference maker in this matchup. While the Predators have a solid penalty kill, they have allowed a power play goal in each of the last two games. Colorado is not the team you want to face when you are confronted with a laspe in penalty kill coverage. The Avs have gone 4 for 7 with the man advantage in their last two games. However, the penalty kill percentage is a League worst 68.0 percent at home.
The way a team handles injuries is telling as to how they may succeed in the post season. The Avalanche, like Nashville, has sustained key injuries that the team has dealt with and has continued to win inspite of the injuries.
Peter Mueller has been out since before the season officially got underway with a concussion and is out indefinitely. Kyle Quincey is out for the remainder of the season after having shoulder surgery. Ryan O'Reilly, the younger brother of Cal O'Reilly, is also out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
The Predators will be without Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, and Cal O'Reilly. There is no official word yet as to whether or not Francis Bouillon or Marek Svatos will be able to play in Denver.
After Thursday night's game, the Predators travel to Western Canada to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount.